Tag Archives: God

Loneliness and Thanksgiving: Thoughts from a Catholic man

God is the Answer because without Him there is no Hope

Loneliness & Thanksgiving                                                         metro.co.uk.

By Larry Peterson

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

This will be the third Thanksgiving since my wife passed away, and when you become widowed, there is an inescapable loneliness factor that enters your life. But I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including those who are seemingly happy, contented, and successful, dragging them into a world of hidden misery and often depression.

However, many who have experienced loss manage to bounce back and find contentment, peace, and even love again. Others cannot—why is that? The common denominator seems to be that those people who have God in their lives were never alone at all. Those who do not—remain alone. The first consequence of rejecting God is the loss of Hope.  They have allowed Hope to be erased from their spirit.

The results of losing Hope are devastating. In fact, the loneliness factor in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Here are a few statistics that show how losing  Hope has affected our nation. Loss of Hope leads to despair, and the ones affected most by this loss are the Generation Z people, those who are in the 18 to 22-year-old range. I have grandchildren older than that. The entire concept of these young people, fresh out from adolescence and beginning adulthood, having lost Hope is so sad.  How can this be?

Cigna referenced a “Loneliness Index,” and it shows that loneliness has become rampant in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale  (yes, they have a loneliness scale), which is a 20 item questionnaire that was designed to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. This evaluator is used frequently to track and measure loneliness. Some of the results were astonishing. This is from their report of May 1, 2018:

  • 47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
  • 27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
  • 40 percent feel that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
  • 20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
  • AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How heartbreaking is that?
  • Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor, which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.

Isn’t it interesting that nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings? And nowhere is the importance of the traditional family considered. The numbers are mind-boggling. We are a nation of almost 330 million people. If 47% say they feel “alone” that is nearly half the country. We only have to go back 25 years to the early “90s to see the rapid decline in the absence of Hope.

Since then, there has been a 58% decline in club meetings, a 43% drop in family dinners, and children have their playtime regulated, depriving them of natural social development. People use their phones to message each other, apply for jobs, get interviewed, quit jobs, break up with their boyfriends or girlfriends, file divorce papers, and do all sorts of interactions without having to go face to face with a person, never saying one word.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and never be alone. They might be taught to think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.

We must count our blessings on Thanksgiving, especially knowing that more than half of all Americans still believe in and honor God in their lives and that we have the freedom to do it. This Thanksgiving, millions upon millions of us will pray together thanking God for all we have. We should also pray for all those who do not have Hope in their lives. We know it can always be reignited and prayer can be the kindling used to fire up the Hope lying dormant in so many. God is just waiting to be asked to light the match.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Copyright©LarryPeterson 2019

 

Planets, Dr. Seuss and Snowflakes—Combined Proof That There is a CREATOR*

Earth  vs  Keplar 452b                                                       public domain

From 2015;    In honor of our Creator

By Larry Peterson

Horizon spacecraft left our humble, little planet and began its voyage to to the edges of our solar system and beyond. After traveling 3 billion plus miles New Horizon finally passed Pluto, the furthest planet from our sun. I don’t know about you but I find it so humbling and awe inspiring that we human beings, using the perfection that surrounds us, can mange to find a planet that is so far away. Yet, within our universe, it would be as close as a neighbor down the street.

Let’s move past Pluto. It seems NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, has found a possible ‘exoplanet’; something worlds beyond our puny solar system. This exoplanet could be similar to our hometown, Earth. Hello sister planet, Kepler 452b.  The Kepler Telescope has identified close to 5000 exoplanets since it started scanning the deepest parts of space. But this is the first one that could be just like Earth. Now, get this–it is one thousand and four light years away. Our closest star system is Alpha Centauri, a mere 4.3 light years away. That means our closest star system is trillions of miles from our solar system and would take us tens of thousands of years to get there. Kepler 452b is 200 times further than that. My question is–how can  we know these things?

How can we possibly know how to measure distance and location and density and climate relating to places that are so unimaginably far away? The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Who figured that out? How do you measure the speed of light? Assuming the number is correct, that means in one minute light travels 11+ million miles. That would be almost 16 billion miles in one day. Multiply that number by four and a half years. Do you see where I’m going with this? The light from our own sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth. Yet Kepler 452b is more than  a thousand “light years” away and our scientists know it revolves around its sun in 385 days vs our 365 days. WHEW!

What about Earth? How much of what Earth does do we take for granted? Well, here is one thing it does that we never think about but without its never ending accuracy we would have chaos. That is TIME. There are 24 hours in a day. Not 25 or 23 or 24.8, but 24. Imagine if there were random hours in a day. Yeah, right. So how did we get 24 hours in a day? Enough—let’s just take it for what it is. MIND BOGGLING.

What about explosions? (Please bear with me–I do intend to make a point.) Explosions are destructive and, for the most part, maim, kill and destroy. This past Fourth of July a guy in Maine, in a festive frame of mind, brilliantly set a rocket off from the top of his head. He died instantly. Jason Pierre Paul,  the all-pro defensive star for the NFL’s N.Y. Giants, blew several fingers off his hand with fireworks. He will be out indefinitely.  C. J. Wilson, of the Tampa bay Buccaneers, retired because he blew several fingers of his hand with fireworks. We can go back 70 years and remember that on August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb blew the Japanese city of Hiroshima to smithereens. It also killed about 80,000 people. It follows that if I set a bomb off in my car the chances of the result being a nicer car are–well, ZERO.

So now–to the point.  The Big Bang Theory of Creation has become the favored explanation of how our seemingly infinite universe came into existence. Scientists do agree that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning.  They also know that the universe is expanding and changing and dying, just like we do.  To the question: At the moment of creation when the unimaginable explosion took place or whether it was something like a giant balloon expanding and expanding until it “popped” spewing matter outwards, it all had to be controlled. Who did that?

Random explosions do not and cannot result in perfection. Twenty-four hours in a day is perfect for us imperfect species to depend on, including the animals.  It is a contradiction to believe otherwise. Everything around us is perfect. We can predict the rising and setting of the sun to the second, the new and full moons to the minute. We know when the tides rise and fall and can predict their lowest and highest points to the minute. We know when an eclipse, whether solar or lunar will occur and where. We have learned how to use the world around us to maintain our very existence or, in many cases, destroy it.

Bottom line: because the universe is so vast and expansive (and apparently infinite) and all of it is moving and changing within a perfectly ordered system proves someone bigger and smarter than any of us put this in place. We cannot understand this. We cannot scientifically prove it. But, no matter what, we live in it and survive by it every second of every day of our lives. Perfection does not come from chaos. Perfection can only come from someone who is PERFECT. I know who that  Person is even though  I cannot see HIM or touch HIM. All I have to do is see a rising sun, a blooming rose, a full moon, a rainbow…or hear the cry of a newborn baby or ponder the magic of one snowflake, unique unto itself.

Maybe Dr. Seuss nailed it in his famous book, “Horton Hears a Who”. Maybe our planet Earth is really no bigger than Horton’s, “Whoville”. Maybe we are specks on the end of a ball of dust. Maybe we are not as big and as smart as we think we are. We had to have a Creator. It is common sense. It is ultimately all in HIS hands.  I am also sure HE subscribes to the famous sentence in Dr. Seuss’s book; “a persons a person no matter how small”. Maybe those very “smart” people who reject what must be so, need to breathe in a deep dose of humility and realize that this all did not just happen as the result of some random explosion or expansion. It is illogical and makes no sense (to me).

This was carried in ZENIT on May 11, 2016*

©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

 

Loneliness in America; a growing and deadly Epidemic

Loneliness                                        stockvault.net

By Larry Peterson

My wife passed on almost two years ago and when you become “widowed” there is an inescapable loneliness factor that enters your life. But I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including the seemingly happy and contented and successful, dragging them into a world of hidden misery and often depression.

Even though loneliness does occupy a unique place in the widowed equation, as it does for those who may have lost a child, a parent, or even a dear friend,  loneliness reaches out and grabs many unsuspecting folks who, on the surface, have happy and contented lives going on. It has become a social condition of almost epidemic proportions that has swept across America and is affecting millions of our neighbors.

When a man and a woman have been together for a long time, and one of them dies, the one left living is deeply wounded. But as painful as that may be, it makes sense; part of who they were is now missing and they cannot get that part back. Over time the wound will scar over and the intensity of the pain will diminish yet never leave. But what about the others?

Cigna referenced a “Loneliness Index,” and it shows that loneliness is an actual epidemic in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale  (yes, they have a loneliness scale) which is a 20 item questionnaire that was designed to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. This evaluator is used frequently to track and measure loneliness. Some of the results were astonishing. This is from their report of May 1, 2018:

  • 47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
  • 27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
  • 40 percent feel that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
  • 20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
  • AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How scary is that?
  • Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.

If we think about the actual numbers these percentages refer to it is mind-boggling. In s nation of 330,000,000 people, 20 percent is 66.000,000 of us. When we say 47 percent, we are almost at 150,000,000 people. How can almost half the population of the United States of America, feel alone? How can 66,000,000 people feel close to no one or have no one to talk to?

The answer may be right in our face, but the secular world will never factor it in. You see, nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings. And nowhere is the importance of the traditional family considered.

Over the past 25 years, there is a 58 percent drop in attending club meetings, a 43 percent drop in family dinners, and a 35% drop in having friends over. Children have regulated play time, and they are deprived of social development. We reach in our pockets and pull out electronic devices that allow us to instantly reach each other day or night anywhere in the world, but how many of us are talking to each other.

Is our main mode of communication now email? How many young people can even write a letter or address an envelope? Job applicants interview over the phone or skype, couples break up via text message.

Loneliness is brought upon us by things we have no control over such as death, injury, accidents, and natural disasters. This we understand, this makes sense. But for so many, especially the young, to feel so alone with no one to turn to, is one of the saddest commentaries of our era. This does NOT make sense.

Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and think of His words from Matthew 28:20   And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.

Interestingly, the first three words of the Bible are; “In the beginning—”  Could the Bible or an app for the Bible be the beginning for someone to believe that they are NEVER alone?

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

The Miracle at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from “back when”                         Aleteia

By Larry Peterson

During the early morning hours of November 24, 1906, a ship quietly slid against the ebb-tide waters of the Narrows and entered New York harbor. On board were almost 2000 people, mostly immigrating Europeans. Through the emerging light of the new dawn, the Statue of Liberty came into view. The appearance of the great icon had them mesmerized. They had arrived at their new home, America.

Among the people on board was a little girl from Hungaria. Her name was Julia, and she was four years old. She held a small rag doll tightly in her arms. At that moment in time, it was the only link she had to security and happiness.

Eight days earlier, Julia had hugged her poppa good-bye. She remembered his stubbly beard tickling her face and how he had reached into the pocket of his big wool overcoat and pulled out a surprise. It was a doll. He smiled and said, “For you, Shkutabella (my little pretty).  Her name is Rachel, and I made her for you. As long as you have her, I will always be with you even if I am not there. Do you understand?”

Julia nodded her head up and down, and her mom said, “Please Bollassar, please come with us. I do not like going without you.”

“Viola, it is all right. I will be over in a year. My brother George will take care of you. It is all right.”

A week had passed, and as Viola and Julia stood on the deck, a life-boat broke free from its support cable. It fell and hit Viola, killing her instantly. Julia’s mom had been standing next to her and then she was lying lifeless on the deck. The child’s  young mind could not understand why her mom did not move. She screamed at her to wake up.  That would never happen. As the ship docked at the pier all Julia knew was fear and loneliness.

At Ellis Island, a bizarre series of events saw Julia shuffled from one official to another and when a lady smiled at her, the official nearby assumed they were together and made Julia go with the lady. The woman took Julia as far as Broome and Varick Streets in lower Manhattan. She told the child to stay there and walked away.  Just like that Julia had become another abandoned child on the streets of the city.

Little Julia, holding Rachel, had been standing in the same spot for more than an hour. She was cold, hungry, and frightened beyond belief when the beat cop, Paddy Dolan, approached her. He was instantly smitten with the dark-haired, blue-eyed child and asked her her name. Hesitatingly she said, “Julia.”

Officer Dolan brought her with him to the station-house, and after checking as much as anyone could in 1906, she was declared an orphan. But this orphan was not going to an orphanage. Paddy Dolan brought her home.

Paddy’s wife, Aileen, a wee wisp of a gal from County Galway in Ireland, could not have children. Paddy and Aileen adopted Julia, and she became Julie Dolan. She grew up to be a teacher, married a man named Tommy O’Rourke, (also a policeman), and they had three children, two boys, and a girl. The girl was named Viola.

On Thanksgiving day, 1951, Julia, her daughter Viola, and Viola’s four-year-old daughter, Karen, went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They stood in the crowd at 63rd Street and Central Park West and, as Santa passed by, Viola suggested that they go to the Squire’s Restaurant a few blocks away.

Karen was holding Rachel, Julia’s doll. Karen loved the doll and, in a moment of weakness, grandma Julia had allowed her to take the doll with her to the parade. Rachel had not been out of the house in over forty years.

They sat in a booth and Karen placed Rachel on the table. Julia reached over and fingered the doll lovingly.  Suddenly a man stood by their table. He was old and weathered and quite nervous. A chill ran down Julia’s spine. The man pointed to the doll and nervously said, “Excuse me…is..is that doll named Rachel?”

Viola, not seeing her mother turning pale, answered, “Why yes, how could you know such a thing?”

As tears fell from the old man’s eyes, he looked at Julia and softly said, “Is it really you, Shkutabella?”

Julia jumped from her seat and threw her arms around the old man. “Oh Poppa,  Poppa, Poppa.  I can’t believe it. Yes,  it is. It is. It is ME.”

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

©Larry Peterson 2018

Thanksgiving: a Time to Pause, be Humble, and Give THANKS to GOD

Thanksgiving family prayer——————Facebook

By Larry Peterson

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.  ~ Psalms 50:14-15

_________________________________________________

Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we stop, take a breath from the year gone by, and say THANK YOU to God for all that we have. The simplicity of this holiday embraces a quiet virtue which exposes itself that day. On this day that virtue manages to transcend all the daily pride that infects so many of us. That virtue is Humility.

We gather with family or friends, reconnecting and maybe “forgetting” past grievances. Many times the lofty and the lowly will sit together and break bread together, strangers in a food center equally sharing the bounty He has so graciously bestowed upon us. Yes, we are ALL God’s children.

The spirit of this holiday is a beautiful thing. All we have to do is “show up.” We do not even have to bring gifts. Just put a smile on your face, expose a thankful heart, and be yourself. And sometimes the dessert will include some “Humble pie.” At times it is the best way to finish the holiday meal.

Wishing anyone who might read this a God filled and beautiful Thanksgiving Day. Below are two Thanksgiving prayers that should fit this great holiday.

________________________________________________________

PRAYER of THANKSGIVING

by Walter Rauschenbusch

O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;   For the wide sky and the blessed sun,

For the salt sea and the running water,  For the everlasting hills

And the never-resting winds, For trees and the common grass underfoot.

We thank you for our senses,  By which we hear the songs of birds,

And see the splendor of the summer fields,  And taste of the autumn fruits,

And rejoice in the feel of the snow,  And smell the breath of the spring.

Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;  And save our souls from being so blind

That we pass unseeing,  When even the common thornbush

Is aflame with your glory,  O God our creator,

Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors:

IN GRATITUDE

Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

             ©Larry Peterson 2018

I Watched in Awe as the Priest Stepped into the Sandals of Christ

By Larry Peterson

What follows is about a priest in a crowd, a famous poem, and a moment in time. The moment was like seeing a tiny flower growing out of a crack in a concrete sidewalk. That tiny flower is another example of God’s creative beauty that surrounds us yet is barely noticed by anyone. The fate of that tiny flower is ominous. Even though no person anywhere at any time could ever create that fragile, work of living beauty, it more than likely will be ignored, stepped upon or sprayed with weed killer to get rid of it. Ah well, we “smarties” have no time for such trivialities and petty annoyances.

 

The poem I refer to is, “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. Written in 1913, it has a timely message. There is a line in the poem that reads, “A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray: the tiny flower in the concrete is a smaller version, is it not? So what about the priest in the crowd?

 

I was at a parish event the other evening which featured as speakers our Bishop, an author, a radio station personality, and our pastor. The Knights of Columbus (which included me) were the ones who prepared and served the free dinner to over 300 guests. The parish center was packed and when the final speaker had finished we began to serve the dessert.  I sensed something special was going on nearby. I do not know if anyone else but me was paying attention but I was about to witness one of those special moments in time.

 

There were a number of local parish priests in attendance and one of them was the chaplain at the local VA hospital. I was working in the kitchen assisting getting the cake plates on trays and handing the trays to those serving the guests. Outside the kitchen and to my left against the wall was the drink table where coffee, tea, cold drinks etc were available. At any given time there were at least ten people standing in line. Five feet away from the drink table was the first row of dinner tables. Father was sitting at the end of the first table talking to a woman.

 

At this point, the chatter was quite loud and people were up and moving about visiting other tables saying “HI” to other folks they knew. I noticed Father looking at the young lady very intently and purposefully. I knew this priest had put his Jesus’ sandals on.

 

I kept working and watching the two of them. They were at least twenty feet away from me and, with all the activity and noise and people milling about and all around them, they had managed to be alone. The priest listened and listened and listened some more.  I watched as best I could because this was so awe-inspiring. I was witnessing Christ do His thing through His priest. This happens every time we attend Mass but how many of us think about what actually IS happening? We hear of this happening in other places but how often do we get to watch it happen? Hardly ever.

 

After a while, Father leaned his head to the right a bit and rested his chin on his upraised fist. He was not looking directly at the woman he was now sort of looking downward. He inconspicuously blessed her and, I assume, she was being given absolution. I was not positive because  I had heard nothing and never even saw her face. But it did not matter. Whatever was happening between them was spiritual and beautiful.

 

Like the tiny flower popping its little lavender petal through a crack in concrete or Kilmer’s magnificent tree looking at God all day lifting its “leafy arms to pray” this moment was those moments. Few people notice the stunning Oak tree standing majestically alongside a roadway or a blade of grass pushing its way through a hairline crack in a slab of cement. Sadly, more and more people are losing sight of Christ in our midst and the hand of the Creator smiling down on His creations. I was blessed. I caught a glimpse the other night.

 

Joyce Kilmer’s poem finishes up with the poignant words: “Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.”  We need to remember that.

Artwork from SimpleMassingPriest.com